Category Archives: CD

New Album By The Paper Kites – On The Train Ride Home – Is Uhhh, Out Now

In a surprising but head-scratching moment, The Paper Kites attended Twitter with an immediate announcement that their new album (the one they’ve been teasing fans with for a bit now) was out! There were no upcoming notices. Just a small sampling of a song the previous evening before the announcement. Now, with that aside…

On April 17, uhh, now, the new album from the Australian gem of a band, The Paper Kites will be is available. The new album is called On The Train Ride Home. With its eight new tracks, the album returns the band to an acoustic display of their music. Currently, you can listen to the new album via streaming services like Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Apple Music, and purchase it digitally via iTunes and Google Play.

But…there is definitely more to this. Given  that On The Train Ride Home is somewhat of an unusual offering by a band who is ascending as their designated ‘next album’, I believe that it is a forerunner of their next official – and electric – album. And while it is absolutely a full-length album, my guess is that these are written songs that didn’t make the  new album cut but were too good to not release. Because…

In August, The Paper Kites will release another new album (I am assuming their intended follow-up to the brilliant TwelveFour (2015). This is an album I saw them support on a tour). The new album will be called On The Corner Where You Live.  More as that album date approaches.

As for On The Train Ride Home, it has a definite Neil Young vibe, especially on “Between The Houses”. If you’re a Paper Kites fan, then you will love this new and surprising album. As for me, I’ll be at their next concert showing, for sure!

Here’s a link to get you to the album on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, and Google Play.

On The Train Ride HomeThe Paper Kites

01 – Nothing More Than That
02 – On The Train Ride Home
03 – Arms
04 – Between The Houses
05 – Only One
06 – It’s Not Like You
07 Standing In The Rain
08 – How Long

Review: Scenes From A Ghost Train – Forrest Fang

For well over 3 decades, Forrest Fang has created sound journeys, each as different as the landscape imagery they invoke. That’s an impressive commitment to not only his own sense of atmospheric creativity, but also to dedicated fans accumulated throughout his sixteen albums. With his latest release from Projekt Records, Scenes from a Ghost Train, Forrest Fang opts to take listeners on a cross-universe ride in a train that exists only within you.

This nine-track escape includes a four-piece title track departure that starts at a “Five-Mile Crater”, visits “Koch’s Veil”, participates in ” A Meeting of Totems”, and ends in “The Pulse of The Stars”.  Add in a twenty-minute aurally-induced display of “The Great Migration”, and four more pieces, Scenes From A Ghost Train  becomes more than an ambient album, it becomes a self-creating painting of continual brush strokes of imagination.

Everything has a sound of the universe in the background. Call it unsettling or rapturous, the choice is yours. But it sets a tone for the soundtrack of travel that is beautifully augmented by the musical skills of Forrest Fang’s toolbox of various instruments.  “A Meeting of Totems” become an earthly tribal experience, while its transitioning follow, “The Pulse of Stars” moves to a wider expanse of majesty.

Works by Forrest Fang are easily notable experiences in vast and completely uncharted cerebral landscapes. It’s difficult to assign the word ‘favorite’ among any of them.

 

Review: Mien – Mien

When a band assembles as a side project from four successful bands, the first rule of thumb should be to NOT overshadow their original and still active bands. I may be alone in this assessment but I felt that is what happened with Hot Tuna, a side venture with several musicians from Jefferson Airplane. The newly released debut from Mien not only is a great album of psych Rock today, but it has currently overshadowed albums from the four members’ respective bands. Of course, I STILL love all the bands that the Mien members hail from. But I must confess, I’m ALREADY awaiting the next Mien album.

The members of Mien are: Alex Maas (The Black Angels), Rishi Dhir (Elephant Stone), Tom Furse (The Horrors), and John-Mark Lapham (The Earlies). With recent albums released and breaks after tours, the four members decided to convene and flesh out further earlier plans for a band.

With a long period of ramping up, the debut album is currently in release. If you’re a fan of the popular Psychedelic Rock genre that has exploded this past decade, then Mien is def an album you want to hear…ALL of it.

This new Mien album has all of the elements of success within. There’s the timely lyrics found in songs like “(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting”, the use of sitar, loops, keyboards, plus everything you would want in an album that reflects a provocative statement about music in today’s world.

Mien is – quite simply – an album of magnificent exploration in modern Rock. With ten songs running an approximately 43 minutes in album length, the album will provide many hours of delightful replay. It is as original, as retro, and as experimental as can be, all while remaining compelling music.

Another excellent thing that the band is doing (in addition to the release of a strong album), is a compilation of playlists that explore the PsychRock genre heavily with a few ‘off the path’ gems attached. These can be followed and enjoyed on Spotify.

If you need to be acclimated into the musical thrill and pleasure of Psychedelic Rock circa 2018, then Mien is a great jumping point that should lead to more in the burgeoning genre, a genre so big that it has its own weekend festival, Levitation (April 26-29, here).

Review: Sweet Unknown – Erika Wennerstrom

For years, we have been blessed with the music of Heartless Bastards. And while the band has largely been a vehicle for the compositions of Erika Wennerstrom, it was the complete package that made the music so much fun to listen to. And with a gorgeous front to sing the songs, with a unique voice, the whole experience was a fine one.

Several years back, the band decided to take a hiatus with no planned return date. This spurred the engine of Heartless Bastards into overdrive, deciding to rightfully jump into the pool of solo waters. As a result, Erika Wennerstrom has journeyed a long, long way to provide a new energy. That energy is found in the stunning new album, Sweet Unknown.

The title is a borrow from a previous lyric (“Could Be So Happy”) and easily provides an apt title for her new venture, a place she hasn’t been to before. And nor have we. But I’m here to tell you, the air is indeed sweet to breathe.

Sweet Unknown has nine new Erika Wennerstrom songs. The music on this new album are rich, professional, and powerful tunes. You get a feel that she is in a zone of her own. And if that’s the case, then I welcome the new face of Heartless Bastards as Erika Wennerstrom, the solo artist.

In an age of a thousand releases a week, it’s important to recognize the better ones. Sweet Unknown, if I may borrow a line, is without question, an album of ‘extraordinary love’. Sweet Unknown is Grammy territory!

Review: Good Merlin – The Chaz Lipp Groove Tripp

To touch the heart of club jazz, one has to be immersed in the originality and flavor of the style. It’s not enough to simply appreciate the music and to then reinterpret it as a new thing, separate from its origins. In this day and age, you’ll be hard-pressed to find practitioners of the smoky, seductive magic of old school club jazz, much like it was played and recorded. But The Chaz Lipp Groove Tripp have expressed a genuine love.

On their latest album, Good Merlin, the band is primarily led by Chaz Lipp. For this 2017 recording of classics and originals, he is joined by able musicians and vocalists that include the pure voice of Sanjara Malakar (yes, that one!), Charlie Hiestand on piano and keyboards, with a shot at bass on two tracks, the essential applications of upright bass as played by Trevor Pelletier, and drums by Chris Patin. Of course, the sexy and communicative alto saxophone as played by Chaz Lipp rounds the entire set of tracks out with its commanding sounds.

Good Merlin reaches into the revered jazz songbooks with extraordinary renditions of “God Bless The Child” by Billie Holiday, the Duke Ellington classic, “Take The ‘A’ Train” that has great covers by Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, and now Chaz Lipp (with his Groove Tripp), and others, Herbie Hancock’s more current “Watermelon Man”, and the ever popular and time-honored Carmichael/Gorrell tune, “Georgia On My Mind”. (I still get shivers listening to Richard Manual sing this track for The Band’s Islands album.)

Chaz Lipp shows a strong love for the classic genre with three original compositions (the hoppin’ “Good Merlin”, the funky (and my favorite) “Groovy Green Eyes”, and the too short soft chaotic touches of “Fly By Night” that could lead to anything.

Good Merlin is an excellent collection of music based on the love of original jazz. As such, it’s worth your time to seek out these tracks, and maybe pick up a copy of the album for yourself.

The Ambient Series: Steve Roach’s Spiral Revelation Up For Grammy Award

Sometimes, the music you love, even the most obscure, are classics that get recognized for their brilliance. Back in January of 2017, I posted a review of an album – something I rarely do these days. The artist is Steve Roach, an ambient magician of note that has created 125 albums thus far! The album, Spiral Revelation, has just been announced for a Grammy Award nomination. Stunning!

Spiral Revelation is nominated for Best New Age Album alongside of Reflection (Brian Eno), Songversation: Medicine (India Arie), Dancing On Water (Peter Kater), and Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (Kitaro). Not only is this heady company and competition, it also speaks to the fact that Steve Roach is a world-class talent, something that is not lost on MusicTAP readers and fans of ambient music worldwide.

MusicTAP wishes Steve Roach (and by association, Projekt Records, and Spotted Peccary, both which released Spiral Revelation) all the best in this magnificent honor.

You can read my 2017 review of Spiral Revelation here.

For The Holidays: Projekt’s CDs of Holiday Music Are Ethereal Delights

As Christmas begins to round the corner, it’s likely that some of you have already begun to spin holiday music choices. I know I have. And like many of you, I have favorites. Several of my all-time favorites are actually from the same label.

Between 1995 and 2001, Projekt Records released three richly curated Holiday sets, all known as Excelsis. The three volumes were sub-headed to distinguish themselves. Between the three sets are 38 songs, none of which can be properly classified. Many of the tracks found on these three volumes are re-imagined traditional classics, and some are  new compositions.

All the contributing artists are from the Dark Wave genre, moved along with great supportive effort from the Projekt label owner, Sam Rosenthal. And while the music is gothic in nature (as were many of the original old traditionals), they are surprisingly beautiful and completely memorable.

Volume One is sub-titled A Dark Noel. But do not be deterred by the title (if it would threaten to deter you), the music transcends all expectations of sound. On the first volume (issued in 1995), you’ll be treated to a stunning version of “Welcome Christmas” by Love Spirals Downward, which features the beautiful vocals of Suzanne Perry , This Ascension’s haunting “Carol Of The Bells”, the unmatched sounds of Lycia, with their unique rendition of “We Three Kings”,  Area’s incredible version of “O Come Emmanuel”, and a fantastic bar period piece by Faith and the Muse of “A Winter Wassail”.

Volume Two, sub-headed as A Winter’s Song, is filled with equally captivating music. Of the album’s fifteen tracks, my favorite stand-out is “In The Bleak Midwinter”. But the album is generously populated with other songs like Julia Kent’s string instrumental of “What Child Is This?”, Lycia’s “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, The Crüxshadows’ version of the Lennon classic, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, and Thanatos’ version of “Silent Night”.

Volume Three – a prelude – was a response to the popularity of the previous two releases, but only issued as a nine-track Maxi-CD. Nevertheless, it beautifully caps off a rare and memorable trilogy of sets that you may not have heard the contents of. It displays Lynn Canfield’s lovely “Edelweiss”, “Aspen Glow” by Lovespirals, Frolic’s enchanting “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and an alternate version of “Silver and Gold” (first heard on the second volume) by  Faith & Disease.

Of the three CDs, the first one is completely sold out in physical form. However, it can still be purchased digitally here in a ‘name your price’ offering (here). The others are still available (here, and here).

Please understand that you WILL be surprised by what you hear. I highly recommend all three volumes!

 

Review: Witchy Feelin’ – Savoy Brown

Savoy Brown have always been an underrated band. Of course, they have a fan base but in the big scheme of things, they were under appreciated. And for the life of me, it’s something I don’t understand. Regardless, from their origin dates (somewhere in the ’60s) to this advanced Millennial date, Kim Simmonds, who is the mainstay of the band since the beginning, have produced almost thirty long players for the band. And many of them are stupendous.

In late August, Kim Simmonds, along with Pat DeSalvo (Bass), and Garnet Grimm (Drums), released Witchy Feelin’. With eleven original tracks, that album is as solid any almost anything the band has released including some of their very early albums.

Kim Simmonds is a master guitarist with an ability to play blues like few others. I can drone on and on about that but the new Savoy Brown album is better equipped to prove that and to display that in the eleven songs on it. I can tell you about the incredible slide guitar on “Standing In A Doorway”, or the era-conscious tunes of “Why Did You Hoodoo Me”, “Livin’ On The Bayou”, and “Guitar Slinger”. But overall, the songs on Witchy Feelin’ are a triumph of great Savoy Brown music.

You can trust me on this one, folks. If you EVER liked blues/rock or the music of Savoy Brown, you will not be disappointed in any of this album. When you have legacy bands trying to remain musically relevant to the times we’re in (and failing terribly), it’s refreshing to see that Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown have never lost a step.

 

Review: Acoustic In Concert – Simple Minds

There certainly aren’t many artists daring enough to re-record their songs in an acoustic format. But that’s not true of Simple Minds, whom, late in 2016, released an album of much-loved classics in a stunning reintroduction. Oh yeah, here were those who recorded live sets unplugged. But not many of them actually going into a studio to do it. With Acoustic, Kerr and Burchill has easily produced a new and enduring classic with reimagined classic Simple Minds tunes. Songs like “Promised You A Miracle” (recorded with KT Tunstall), “See The Lights”, “Someone, Somewhere In Summertime”, “Alive and Kicking”, “Waterfront”, and of course, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, are delightful to listen to and carry a high caliber of replay value. I know. Today, some nine months after release, it’s a regular in rotation.

Eagle Rock Music released a BBC Music live set from Simple Minds’ show in London at the Hackney Empire. The show was a response to the popularity of the Acoustic album, and was warmly attended by fans. The set, Acoustic In Concert, is a combo CD/DVD and a BD set that can be viewed and, with the DVD set, equally enjoyed on the run. What’s as surprising about the Acoustic In Concert set is how vibrant the show was. Kerr and Burchill may be older now, but their age has no impact on their ability to parade their famous songs in great glory. It’s evident that they’re proud of those songs.

Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill have employed Cherisse Osei as their drummer and percussionist. Her performance is lively adding to the currency value of the show itself. The band is rounded out by current member, Ged Grimes, and vocalist Sarah Brown. Simple Minds are as valid a band long after their sales peak as can be enjoyed. Their previous album, Big Music, was released in 2014, and was filled with excellence. I’ll say this, it was easy to remain a Simple Minds fan long after the retreat of Once Upon A Time from 1985.

Not only have I enjoyed listening to Acoustic for these many months, I have enjoyed watching this amazing band on In Concert. There’s little doubt that I will regularly revisit the DVD just like I do with a few other great concert DVDs. I won’t compare it to others because each band brings their own presence to the stage. But suffice it to say, listening to the mates perform classics like “Sanctify Yourself”, “Promised You A Miracle”, “New Gold Dreams”, and “Chelsea Girl”, is a heart-warming experience. There’s even a good cover of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” within. The DVD’s video quality is quite amazing. I could only imagine the beauty of a BD.

If the band decided to do an Acoustic, Volume II, I’d be first in line for it. As for their Acoustic show, I’d definitely attend. Acoustic In Concert is an able convincing media for that resolution.

Acoustic In Concert – Simple Minds

01 New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
02 See The Lights
03 Glittering Prize
04 Stand By Love
05 Waterfront
06 Andy Warhol
07 Chelsea Girl
08 Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)
09 Dancing Barefoot
10 Speed Your Love To Me
11 Promised You A Miracle
12 Don t You (Forget About Me)
13 Sanctify Yourself
14 Long Black Train
15 Alive And Kicking
16 Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)

 

Review: Buckingham/McVie – Lindsey Buckingham . Christine McVie

From the goofy, Animal House silliness that weaves in and out of the pop perfection of “Feel About You”, to the way that the opening number, “Sleeping Around the Corner” makes you smile when the band suddenly kicks in after a tortured vocal on the intro, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie is almost everything that you could possibly want from a Fleetwood Mac album.

Which of course, it really isn’t. For a variety of reasons and speculation that you can find everywhere, Stevie Nicks sat this one out. Thankfully, in an odd parallel to her own beginnings, we get to stand back and discover her bandmates, Buckingham and McVie as a duo.

With Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass, it is inevitable that the album draws as close Tusk, Mirage and Tango as it does. But in a way that could only make sense in the Fleetwood Mac Universe, this is a near-perfect collaboration between two friends who happen to know the bass player and drummer from Fleetwood Mac. On paper this may look like solo albums joined at the hip, but it isn’t.

Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie plays out across 39 minutes with a clarity, a sense of openness, joy and exploration that the Mac’s last two releases 2013 Extended Play and 2003’s Say You Will never really were able to reach.

Freed of the weight and responsibility of the big machine (as Lindsey likes to describe Fleetwood Mac when he is doing his solo work), the album sounds like the people who made this were having fun. And lots of it.

It’s not perfect. As a recording led by two writers that the world loves to hear sing, it could use a bit more of the duo’s harmonies on a few of the tracks. But like the Rolling Stones recent success with Blue and Lonesome, the album is a surprisingly full work by a veteran artist that makes you want to come back.

Each of those two albums reminds you why you loved the bands in the first place. The albums are not only reaffirmation of why Lindsey and Christine or Mick and Keith, started making records so long ago, it is a demonstration of how far they have grown over the years. Each release is proof of just how good they have all become.

Like Blue and Lonesome, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie entertains the hell out of you, but it challenges you as well. The chorus to “In My World” may be catchy as all get out, but the song features a dream of wistfulness and understanding that the man in his twenties who joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 would have never thought of.

Red Sun lives in the same neighborhood as “Hold Me” does. But it lacks the shimmer and shine that wrapped the classic from Mirage in radio-perfect sunshine and warm sand dunes. And it is all the better for it. The song, a co-write between Buckingham and McVie, slips along on the strength of what was left out of its production.

Which is one of the unspoken strengths of this release, what was left out of each song. Go back and grab Say You Will. Listen to “Murrow’s Turning Over in His Grave”, “Illuminati” or any number of cuts from that release. Those were some packed, packed songs. The songs on Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie are filled with air, unburdened by excessive production. Each writer seems fueled by the absence of pressures created by operating under the banner of The Big Machine.

Still, while the front line of Fleetwood Mac may occasionally shift focus, but essence of Fleetwood Mac is always in the snap of Mick Fleetwood’s wrist on a snare and John McVie’s quiet ability to lay back and never force a single note. Their incredible consistency anchors the songwriting, despite the varied origins of each tune. Lindsey and Christine share credit on three songs while Buckingham has five as a solo write and McVie has two herself. The album is a cohesive whole that plays through from start to finish as well as their first collaboration back in 1975 ever did.

Oddly enough, the absence of Stevie has unintentionally summoned a ghost that has long walked the hallways of a Fleetwood Mac graveyard. Bob Welch held the center spot between Peter Green/Blues Mac and the arrival of the cast who created The Big Machine.

It may be hearing Christine’s voice without the expectations of Stevie popping in. Or it may be the way that Buckingham and co-producers Mitchell Froom and Mark Needham have left out any kitchen sink they thought of adding to this excursion. There is something inexplicable about this album brings it closer in spirit to what might have followed Heroes Are Hard to Find than it really does Rumours.

“Game of Pretend” is not that away far from the quiet of Bare Trees. The paranoia that opens “Carnival Begin” isn’t that far away from a UFO sighting or being hypnotized. Especially when mixed with a slow build that recalls “I’m So Afraid”.

The sequencing on this album is near perfect. Any other duo (group), would have ended with “On With the Show” by capitalizing on the song’s declaration of independence and maturity with an explosion of Buckingham guitar strangulations on a seven minute fade.
As with so much of this album, in the end, taste and restraint rule. Instead of histrionics at the end of “On With the Show”, there is a hint of the little skipping guitar line that Lindsey plays at the end of “Gypsy” overtop of a fade that leaves you smiling. Hell, the guitar line might even be an in joke, a little tweek. With the mythology of Fleetwood Mac, you never know.

You want the quick version?

Every album ever made by Fleetwood Mac went to a restaurant and started to get drunk while waiting for dinner to be served.
Eventually The Blues Albums huddled in a corner and argued over how John Mayall will be viewed in the history of the world. The Bob Welch-era Albums cornered a Warner Brothers executive and badgered them all night to remaster that era’s albums. And more than anything, to permanently destroy the cover art to Mystery To Me.

While everyone else was talking the albums Tusk and Mirage left together quietly in the same Uber pick-up! Boy were their spouses uncomfortable! The rest of us are just fine with the results.

–Mark Squirek